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BMI, Calories, Blood Sugar — What Health and Fitness Numbers Are Most Important to Pay Attention To?

The truth is that no one number will give you a perfect picture of your health and fitness. Instead, you'll need to look at a few things and then, with your doctor's help, determine your overall health.

It is easy to focus on one number when it comes to health, fitness or even body image. Get on the scale and your day could be made or ruined. But you are more than just a number, and while these numbers are helpful, some may be more important than others.


BMI or body mass index is the measure of your weight comparable to your height. It is a tool often used by doctor's and other healthcare professionals to determine if you are at a healthy weight, overweight, underweight, or obese. For many people, their BMI can indicate if they are at a higher risk for things like heart disease or diabetes. However, BMI is not an accurate tool for many athletes and avid exercisers. That's because muscle tissue is dense, and you may be in great health, look fantastic but your BMI says your overweight due to the amount of lean mass you have. So, if your BMI comes back high, delve a little deeper into your health.

The Scale

The scale can help you monitor weight fluctuations, but you are more than the number on the scale. Again, if it's higher than you and your doctor would like, look at other numbers such as blood pressure, heart rate, and blood work to see what else is happening in your body. If you are overweight, then the scale can help you monitor weight loss. However, for those that are avid exercisers, your body shape may be changing, but the number moving slowly. Check how your clothes are fitting as well.


Calories are literally energy. The number of calories in a food can give you an idea of how long your hunger may be satisfied. Your calorie needs can fluctuate day to day based on what you are doing. The more active you are, the more calories you need to maintain your weight. Need to lose some weight? You'll need to reduce your overall calories. However, many people can get caught up and eat too few calories in the quest for weight loss. This can actually work against you — slowing down your metabolism and leading to fat storage. A registered dietitian can help you determine a calorie range that works for you and your goals.

Bloodwork and Other Health Numbers

You may have a great BMI, exercise regularly and eat a pretty good diet — but what about the things you can't see? High blood pressure, high cholesterol, blood sugar, etc. are all important numbers to look at when it comes to your health. You can't tell from the outside if someone has high blood pressure or even diabetes. And excess body weight does not guarantee you'll develop these conditions.

The bottom line is all of these numbers can give you insight into your health, but not the whole picture. So, use them as the tools they are and double check by looking at more than just one number.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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